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Adharshila Learning Centre is a unique school for adivasi children in Madhya Pradesh that views education as a tool for liberation...and a place of fun.

The Adharshila Learning Centre was started in 1998 by the Veer Khajiya Naik Manav Vikas Pratishthan.

The children have an active role in running the school.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Veena player at Adharshila

I was happily sitting in a train bound to Kota when I got a call from Mr. Niranjan Haldar asking me when he can go to see the school ? Vow. Hardly anybody says this. Usually we are calling people to come over.

Aikla choulo re.....
 The next Saturday after much ghabrahat (usual in middle age men before a journey) we were in a bus to Sendhwa. I forgot to tell that Mr. Haldar or Haldar Sir, as he is popularly known in Indore, is a musician of great repute besides being a regular artist at the All India Radio. One of the few in India, definitely in Madhya Pradesh who play the Vichitra Veena, guitar and the synthesiser with equal ease. A true synthesis of the traditional and the modern. We got acquainted with him as our children learn music from him.

Reached Sendhwa by noon and from there to Adharshila in an auto-rickshaw, waiting for us at the bus stand. What luxury !

The children had a two hour session with him in the evening where he taught them the famous song - Aikla Choulo Re. Initially he was sceptical about teaching a Bengali song, that too Robindra Sangeet to adivasi children but the scepticism vanished in the first ten minutes seeing the ease with which the children picked up the lyrics as well as the tune. We helped them by writing the lyrics on the black-board.
Presenting the Haat calender to Mr. Haldaar

We were not so surprised as we had seen them pick up Marathi, Tamil and Chattisgarhi songs which earlier visitors had taught them.

It was great to hear the anthemic song, Aikla Choulo whispering out of the door and jaalis of the hall. How easy it is to be one... with total strangers. Of course music makes it so much easier. Listen to the music -

Bareli folk, filmi and patriotic song session.
Prakaash, presenting a mud horse used in tribal ceremonies,
with Jayashree. .
Next day again we had a session with another song - the Hindi version of another Robindra Nath song - Anand loke mangala loke and later as we were chatting in our verandah there was an impromptu session of Filmi, Folk and Patriotic songs. The children, Haldar Sir on the harmonium, and visitors from Bangalore, students of Azim Premji Institute - were all in it together.

But there's always more ... especially when you are at Adharshila, the heart of rural and that too tribal India - there was no electricity when we reached. None at night and not the next day too ... No electricity means no water as it has to be pumped. But HS was quite sporting and was even ready to visit the field in typical rural style.. but fortunately there was some water in the drum. Teachers enjoy some privileges.

The cot under the million star sky always makes up for the inconveniences of the day. We too on our part made it up with the traditional tribal feast for guests - kookdi and kudri (chicken and rice).

Hope we have more interaction with him in the future.

Calender -2013 - Haats - Weekly Markets

Great things and VIPs always arrive a little late ...and always manage to make a place for themselves in the front rows! and then like the traffic guys keep reminding us - better late than never ! so...finally the Calender -2013 is out.....and finished.. all of the 1000 copies. The money raised will be used for Adharshila.

 It is based on the theme of rural weekly markets or haats - a vibrant place for economic and social exchange in rural areas. The word Haat seems to be derived from the word Haata/Saata which means to exchange goods in place of each other or barter, in the bhilali, bareli languages of the adivasis of western India.

It seems there are about 47000 haats in India which come alive everyday with farmers, artisans and small traders living in the remotest of places. Everyday after the dust and noise of laughter, bargaining and fights, the market falls silent only to be resurrected the next day at some other place. People gather and disperse and trade worth crores happens without any middlemen. 
Who needs retail chains ?

Haats are democratic markets where producers sell their ware directly to consumers. Baskets, pots, vegetables, seeds, cloth.... anything.

People converge at the Haats not just to buy and sell but also to meet relatives, friends, a daughter married in a distant village, resolve feuds and for many other social reasons.